Tonawanda News — PITTSFORD — It’s no coincidence, receiver T.J. Graham points out, that the Buffalo Bills opened training camp by putting on an aerial display featuring one deep completion after another.
The Bills’ intention during a two-minute session that finished after 10 consecutive long bombs into the end zone was to create an early buzz by showing off their young and speedy stable of receivers.
“Coming out as an offense with a bunch of newly acquired weapons, coming out and showing what we can do with it was the point of that,” Graham said, recalling the camp-opening practice in suburban Rochester. “It’s just showing what we could do. The quarterbacks love it, and the receivers love it, too. The deep ball is touchdown. It’s money.”
Some 10 days later, very little has changed in the practice repertoire, with the offense continuing to find time to put an emphasis on its newfound ability to spread the field.
Whether it was rookie quarterback EJ Manuel hooking up with Graham twice on that first day of camp, or Manuel hitting rookie Marquise Goodwin on a 63-yard touchdown pass to end practice Friday. Even third-string quarterback Jeff Tuel got involved by completing a 45-yard throw to Goodwin during a scrimmage Monday.
These new-look Bills are showing signs of being built for speed with a revamped group of receivers.
It’s a new approach for a team that was previously knocked for its dink-and-dunk, popgun attack under former coach Chan Gailey, who was fired after three losing seasons.
And it comes with the arrival of first-time coach Doug Marrone who, along with first-time coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, are installing an up-tempo, no-huddle and aggressive style of offense.
“You always heard the saying, ‘Luck follows speed,’” Marrone said, noting he first heard the saying from Dick MacPherson, his college coach at Syracuse. “I just believe in that. I think when you have speed, it opens some things up.”